Christmas Cupcake Recipes: Cupcake Decorating Ideas For Kids

Christmas Cupcake Ideas

Cute Christmas cupcakes mean so much to kids during the holidays. Mothers bake and decorate them to send to school, church bazaars, kid”s parties or just to have them at home.

The possibilities for cupcake decorating ideas for kids are limited only by the imagination and what decorating items you can find. Fortunately, at this time of year, grocery and department stores are well stocked with things to help with your Christmas cupcakes.

Past  Christmas Cupcake Decorating

I was a little disappointed when I couldn’t find some of the things I have used in the past for Christmas cupcake recipes. Those strands of little candy canes in cellophane seem to not exist anymore. I have yet to find any ‘reindeer corn.’ Reindeer corn, which is green,red and white candy corn makes cute Christmas cupcakes. Just ice the cupcake and form a flower with it in the center. Tiny candy canes and red and green sprinkles used to be a tradition for my Christmas cupcake decorating.

New Items for Creative New Cupcakes

There are  newer candies available  that save the day for kid’s Christmas cupcakes. We used Rips, which are squares of red and green licorice candy, mini M&Ms, decorating gels and colorful sprinkles.

The kids are out of school for a long break. Schedule an afternoon of fun by decorating Christmas cupcakes with them. It is a good way to help them develop their creativity. Bake and ice the cupcakes, then set out some of these sprinkles, gels and other colorful candies. The kids will enjoy decorating, eating and sharing their creations.

Here are some inspirations to get you started.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer Cupcake

Ice cooled cupcakes with your favorite chocolate frosting. Form the muzzle with a vanilla wafer and add a red M&M nose. The eyes are blue mini M&Ms. The antlers are added with mini pretzels. Use chocolate piping to outline a mouth and add pupils to the eyes .

tip: Just put some frosting in a plastic baggie and cut a small slit at the tip on the bottom. Then squeeze on the piping.

Cute reindeer Christmas cupcake

Santa’s Hat Cupcake

For the Santa’s hat, use red icing that is bought in tubes. It is impossible to tint white frosting red with food dye. It will just turn pink. Frost the cupcake first and then carefully frost a small ice cream cone. Invert the cone on the cupcake. Add mini-marshmallow fur and a pom pom at the tip.

Santa’s hat is a cupcake, inverted ice cream cone and mini marshmallow.

Poinsettia Cupcake

The red and green licorice squares have a shimmery sugar coating that makes a lovely poinsettia. Use kitchen shears to trim the petals from the pieces. Use a yellow mini M&M for the flower’s center.

 

Abstract Design Tree Cupcake

The abstract Christmas tree design is easy to achieve with a tube of green cake decorating gel. Add round dot sprinkles to represent the ornaments.

Draw on an abstract tree design with green cake decorating gel. Add sprinkles for ornaments.

Have fun with Christmas cupcake decorating ideas for kids. You will create memories for a lifetime that they will in turn pass on.


Organizing The Classroom: A Dozen Dirty Easy Tips

 

Some people seem to just be naturally more organized than others. Perhaps it has to do with how they grew up.Maybe it is just the way their brain is wired.Perhaps some people are just too rushed to keep their act together. One thing is for certain. Life is much easier for the organized person. This is especially true for teachers. Teachers must make dozens of decisions daily. Hundreds of thoughts will pass through the teacher’s mind from bell to bell. For a teacher, staying organized is pretty much a matter of survival.

Can organization skills be learned? Of course they can! And role-modeling is the best teacher of all. Here are 12 tricks to keep you and your students better organized. I call them the “dirty dozen” because they are down to earth and easy. These simple tricks can go a long way in making life in the classroom easier. These down and dirty tricks will have a huge payoff at the end of a long day. The teacher will be a little less stressed and tired. (Or maybe even a lot!)

Tip # 1: A Place For Everything

“A place for everything and everything in its place.” This old saying is so simple and so true. Provide clear,colorful plastic buckets and boxes for student supplies. Markers, scissors, rulers and other supplies will stay picked-up, organized and accessable in an attractive way.

 

Tip # 2: The Dish Drainer Idea

This clever tip turns an ordinary dish drainer into a filing system for organizing the classroom. Use it to organize materials at a learning station. Folders go in the slots for plates and supplies go where the cutlery goes. It can even be used as a filing system for the teacher’s desk top.

Tip # 3: A Shoe Bag For Storage

A hanging  shoe bag isn’t just for shoes anymore.  Boxes of staples, paper clips, pens and much more is easier to access here than at the bottom of a cluttered up desk drawer.  Save time and aggravation. Use that bottom drawer for tea bags and snacks!

  Tip # 4: Hanging File Folders

 Hanging file folders are indispensable  in the classroom. No more stacks and stacks of worksheets piled upon a table or on your desk. They can be tucked neatly into color-coded file folders. Color code them by subject, level or learning stations. Hanging file folders can be used for lots of other things. Just look around your own classroom. Chances are, you will find more than one way to use them for organizing the classroom.

 

Tip # 5: Instant Listening Center Seats

Early childhood teachers that incorporate listening stations into the class room will love this easy DIY idea. Store listening equipment (tape/CD player and tapes/CDs , head phones ) inside a milk crate. Now glue some foam padding on a block of plywood or particle board that you (or one of the dads) has cut  to fit over the crate. Cover this with durable cloth and staple it down with a staple gun. The kids take off the listening station cover.Voila! It transposes into a seat. This is great for using the floor as seating space at a learning station.

 Tip # 6: Designated Pencil Canisters

A half dozen pencils breaking every half hour will drive a teacher nuts. Take control of this issue by having a canister of sharpened pencils and a canister  for ones that need sharpening. These are recycled coffee containers. Now pick a student helper to sharpen pencils a couple of times a day. The beginning and ending of the day are good times.

 

 Tip # 7: Self-selected Reading Scale

Sometimes thoughts need to be organized along with things. Organize free choice reading for little ones’ minds with this clever system. Teach the students to read one page. They need to have 2-3 words on that page that they need help with in order to grow as a reader. Four words are a challenge and five words means the book is too difficult.

 Tip # 8: Organizing Student Notebooks

Help individual middle and high school students stay organized. This posted display gives the contents of a well-organized binder for a course. It is a good idea to have an actual sample on display located somewhere in the classroom as an example to go by. Helping the students stay organized will free up “brain space” for learning all those difficult high school subjects.

 

Tip # 9: Hand-sanitizing Bathroom Passes

These coozy coolers that hold hand sanitizer  make great bathroom passes for boys and girls in elementary school. No more tapping you on your shoulder interrupting your thoughts. Kids who need “to go” simply place the correct (boy or girl) coozy at their seat. The teacher can easily spot who is out of the classroom. Only two can go at once. Upon returning to their seat, they use the hand sanitizer  and return the bathroom pass to the shelf for the next student to use. This tip also helps keep down germs and illness.

 Tip # 10: Organized And Green

Teach the kids to be organized and green at the same time. A good designated spot like these bins will encourage saving construction paper scraps for future projects.  Why recycle if you can reuse? And at the end of the day, there will be less housekeeping. The custodian will become your best friend. That is always a plus!

 

 Tip # 11: Checking For Understanding Board

A checking- for-understanding board is a quick and dirty way of organizing students into groups who need further instruction on a concept. This checking-for- understanding board is from a math class. There is a section for each of four skills that have been taught. Each student must give an example which shows that they understand the concept on a sticky note. They place the sticky notes in the matching sections. Now all the teacher needs to do is sort by name and skill for remedial groups. How easy is that? It is an informal assessment not intended to replace for thorough mastery testing.

 

Tip # 12: Organizing By Day Of The Week

Organizing the classroom by the day of the week is always helpful. A Five-tiered tray can organize daily lesson plans and materials, student work and much more. Label them M, T, W, R , and F. Once again, look around your own classroom. Chances are, you will find more ways than one to organize by the day of the week.

These dirty dozen tips for teachers will leave you less stressed and with happier students.  Guaranteed!


Thanksgiving Activities For Kids: Last Minute Crafts And Snack Ideas.

Easy Thanksgiving Ideas for Kids

Thanksgiving is such a great holiday for teaching  Early American History to kids.They love learning about the First Thanksgiving and all about Pilgrims and Indians.

There are plays, skits, crafts and Thanksgiving dinners for school and daycare groups. Thanksgiving  activities are a big part of American culture.Parents look forward to what the kids made at school or daycare for Thanksgiving. These Thanksgiving activities for kids are easy to do. The materials are minimal and easy to get.This is what makes them so good for last minute crafts and snacks for school, daycare or at home.

Thanksgiving Craft and Snack Ideas

Not only are these last minute snack and craft ideas for Thanksgiving easy to prepare for, they are also multi-leveled.  Use them for preschool Thanksgiving crafts. Older children can create these Thanksgiving crafts with minimal help from adults.

Last minute snack and craft ideas for Thanksgiving are great for home schooling, busy Moms, daycare and busy teachers of younger kids.

Thankful Turkey Feathers

This thankful turkey is made by painting  two Styrofoam balls with brown acrylic paint. One (the head) is smaller than the other (the body). This turkey has googly eyes and a snood and wattle made of a red chenille pipe cleaner. Form an orange beak triangle. Attach the Styrofoam balls together with hot glue and add features.  Attach him to a set of craft foam or heavy cardboard feet.

Child or teacher can cut paper feathers. They can color Popsicle sticks with markers for the feathers to be glued on. The feathers can then be easily stuck into the turkey’s Styrofoam body.

Kids write something to be thankful for on this turkey’s feathers.

This Thanksgiving craft for kids can be used in different ways.

For Younger Kids:

Thankful turkey feathers make a great literacy lesson for little ones. The early childhood teacher will create the turkey craft. She will provide ‘feathers’ for individual kids on which to write things they are thankful for .

 

For Older Kids:

Older kids can be more involved in the creation of the turkey that holds the ‘thankful feathers.’

This is a great craft for kids to take home. Parents will love to use it for a Thanksgiving decoration. Kids will be so proud!

It is also a good group activity for the early childhood classroom.  Use it as a table centerpiece for a parent-child Thanksgiving luncheon.

 

Thanksgiving Snack For Kids

Kids of all ages will like this healthy turkey snack. It is made with the following:

  • A pear sliced vertically
  • Red and yellow apple slices
  • Raisins and craisins
  • Cheddar cheese triangles
  • Halved grapes
A fruity turkey!

 

Slice a pear vertically and place on a plate. Add grape halves and red and yellow apple slices as shown for feathers. This turkey has a craisin snood,  raisin eyes and an apple slice wattle. They are attached with tooth pick halves. Take care when serving young children to remove the tooth picks.

Cheesy beak and feet make this nutritious snack complete.

This is a great snack for those day care programs that are open almost to the last  minute for the holiday.

Indian Corn Napkin Rings

Indian Corn Napkin Rings

Indian corn napkin rings are a great last minute project that will impress parents. Use empty toilet tissue holders and tissue paper in Indian corn colors. They make very nice napkin holders that will really add to the Thanksgiving dinner table.

For Younger Kids:  

Use tissue ‘squares’ that are about 3″x 3″. This is a good activity for fine muscle development. Let the kids ball the squares with their fingers. Help them glue to a half of a toilet tissue roll. They can even practice patterning as a math skill. See how the one roll has a color pattern started. Patterning is an important math skill for young children.

For Older Kids:

Older children have greater fine motor skills and a longer attention span. They can also be directed to cut tissue ‘squares’. Use smaller squares for them.

Harvest Fruit Sun Catchers

Harvest Sun Catchers will be a great decoration for kids to share at home.

 

Parents really love it when kids bring home things for holidays. It is the perfect time to brag. Many times holiday craft projects are kept as memorabilia for many years. This can be difficult for teachers of really young kids with limited skills. Harvest fruit sun catchers involve little ones for a nice looking Thanksgiving craft to send home. Skills for this project vary from easy to harder. Tissue shapes are glued to wax paper fruit cut-outs inside fruit frames of black construction paper. Use a white crayon for tracing fruit shapes.

For Younger Kids:

Prepare materials. Let them glue pre-cut tissue pieces to fruit shapes.

For Older Kids:

Older children can cut and trace their own fruit shapes from patterns. They can also cut the tissue shapes.

Kids trace fruit shapes from black construction paper. Tissue collage makes pretty sun catchers.

Harvest Fruit From Paper Strips

Cute and easy harvest fruit from strips of construction paper.

These apples and pumpkins can fill a basket for a table centerpiece for the day care Thanksgiving dinner. Toss them into a basket with mini pumpkins and gourds. Parents are sure to be impressed.

For Younger Kids

These students can practice cutting skills using safety scissors. Help them adjoin four strips with paper fasteners. Assist with cutting and attaching stems.

For Older Kids

Older kids can follow directions and complete this activity with minimal assistance.

Don’t send the kids home for Thanksgiving this year without a cute Thanksgiving craft that they made in school or daycare !

Persimmons: Trail Mix Recipe

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Trail Mix

Trail mix has been around for awhile. It is called trail mix because it’s the perfect food for hiking, a day-long  journey or traveling on vacation. It is said that California surfers ‘invented’ trail mix in the 1960s  when they mixed peanuts and raisins to pack for the beach.  It provided a mixture of protein and carbs that would provide plenty of energy without spoiling in the hot sun.

Trail mix was mentioned a decade earlier, though, in a novel by Jack Kerouac. Kerouac was a mid-1950’s beat generation author. The beat generation, with their far out ideas, preceded the hippie culture of the 1960s. Kerouac had the two main characters in his 1958  novel, The Dharma Bums,  packing trail mix for a marathon hiking trip.

From Trail Mix to Granola

Regardless of who gets credit for the invention, trail mix grew to include additional ingredients. Gorp or good ole’ raisins and peanuts turned into granola, oats,raisins and peanuts. Sometimes a few M&Ms were thrown in.

Trail Mix and Dried Fruit

Today, trail mix recipes have been customized, but all of them include dried fruit. Dried fruit  retains all of  the  nutrition of when it was fresh. Fruit can be dried in a few days in the sun or in a few hours in a food dehydrator.

Persimmons dry in a food dehydrator overnight.

Honey and vegetable oil can be added to turn trail mix into more of a cereal-like granola. It can be eaten alone or used as a topping for yogurt or ice cream.

Persimmons and Trail Mix

 

Fuyu persimmons are sweet when still firm.

 

Persimmon Granola-Trail Mix

Fall is a good time to try a trail mix made with dried persimmons. There are several different types of persimmons. Some are astringent and others are non-astringent. An astringent is an agent that shrinks bodily tissues. That is why astringent persimmons make your mouth pucker unless they are so ripe they are almost rotten. The small American persimmons and the Hachiya persimmon are astringent. The American persimmon is good for making a tangy persimmon salsa that goes well with fish.

Fuyu persimmons are sweet when still firm. Unlike the American persimmon, they are not full of seeds. These two reasons make Fuyu persimmons good for drying in a food dehydrator.

Persimmons are low in calories and high in fiber and nutrition. They have antioxidants that fight free radicals.  They are an excellent source of vitamins A & C, potassium, manganese, copper and folic acid.

Try the recipe in the amounts I used or tweak to your own taste.

Ingredients for Trail Mix

Ingredients for persimmon granola-trail mix
  1. 2 cups quick oats
  2. 1 cup dried persimmons
  3. 1 cup chopped walnuts
  4. 1 cup coconut
  5. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  6. 1/4 cup honey
  7. cinnamon

Putting the persimmon trail mix together

Toast the oats just a few minutes in a warm oven. Mix the cinnamon in with the oats. Warm the oil and honey together. Place oats in a large bowl. Now add the walnuts, and coconut and chopped dried persimmons. Stir and coat ingredients with the honey and oil mixture. Spread with spatula on a baking sheet and bake about 30 minutes in a 150-degree oven.

 

Coat Ingredients with Oil and Honey

Coat all dry ingredients with oil and honey.

 

 


Fruit Kabob Turkey With Chocolate Dip Body

Fruit Kabob Turkey

Thanksgiving Snacks For Kids

Fruit  kabobs are a fun way for kids to eat fruit.  Fruit is an extremely important part of anyone’s diet but  especially for kids’ diets.  Fruit kabobs make it more likely that kids will eat fruit. Anything that is fun is better!

Kids love food that looks like animals and other objects. Food that looks like other things is a great way to encourage picky eaters. Even kids that don’t really relish fruit will be begging for a “turkey feather”!

Turkey Table Centerpiece

Do you need a centerpiece idea for your Thanksgiving table?  This clever rainbow fruit kabob that looks like a turkey is sure to be a winner.  It is a fun project to do with the kids for Thanksgiving. Getting them involved in preparing a holiday meal is lots of fun and a good way to spend quality time together.

It’s never too soon to help kids become aware of the health benefits of fruit and other healthy foods. Getting them into the habit of eating healthy foods now is a benefit that will pay off for them later in life. Even young children can become aware of how each food helps certain parts of the body.

Use the information after the post  for a quick reference. While making rainbow fruit kabob turkeys, discuss with the kids how each fruit helps us stay healthy.

An Edible Centerpiece

Guests will love this fruit kabob edible centerpiece. An easy-to-make, delicious chocolate fruit dip in a bowl is the turkey’s body.  Dip in some “fruity feathers” for a tasty appetizer. The turkey’s head is a crunchy pear. His beady eyes are blueberries skewered into mini marshmallows with toothpicks.  His beak is an orange wedge, his snood is the pointy end of strawberries and his wattle is a slice of crispy red apple. Attach these parts to the pear with halves of toothpicks. Give the turkey two carrot strip legs and orange wedge feet. He will be almost too cute to eat!

How To Make A Rainbow Fruit Kabob Turkey

Materials And Ingredients:

  • assorted fruit (grapes, kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, cantaloupe)
  • wooden skewers
  • toothpicks
  • one pear
  • two blueberries
  • two mini marshmallows
  • one orange
  • carrot strips
  • one pear
  • endive (optional, for grass)
  • small glass bowl
  • chocolate dip (easy recipe below)
Use 10-12 skewers for the fruit kabobs.

Assembling The  Fruit Kabob Turkey

  1. Skewer three grapes and push to about one inch from the end.
  2. Add pineapple chunks, kiwi and strawberry slices, and cantaloupe chunks.
  3. Top with three grapes in a smaller size for the “feather tips”.
(10-12 skewers of fruit will make a turkey with a full spread of feathers.)

Attach the turkey’s features to the pear with toothpicks.  Now attach the turkey’s head to the bottom of  a skewer of fruit near the middle.

Attach the head to the middle skewer on the make. This skewer will need less fruit.

 

Easy Chocolate Fruit Dip Recipe

This easy recipe uses only three ingredients!

Melt 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate morsels. Mix with a package of softened cream cheese and two cups Cool Whip.

 

Grapes,

  • Antioxidants, copper, iron, manganese, vitamins C & K, carotenes, B-complex,
    • Protects against  certain cancers, fights heart disease and Alzheimer’s later in life.
  • Antioxidants, copper, iron, manganese, vitamins C & K, carotenes, B-complex.
  • Protects against  certain cancers, fights heart disease and Alzheimer’s later in life.

Strawberries

  • Anthocyanis, ellagic acid, quercetin,  vitamin C
  • Helps to have a healthy brain,  reduces forgetfulness, protects against cancer and heart disease.

 Cantaloupe

  • Folate, carotenoids,
  • Helps promote healthy growth and cell maintenance, prevents anemia

Kiwi Fruit

  • Rich in vitamin C, potassium, prebiotics, 
  • Helps muscle contract, prevents “charlie horse”, helps the body fight germs and aids in the digestion of food.

Pineapple

  • Vitamins C & A, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, manganese
  • Helps to have strong bones and healthy gums. Fights off colds and flu,  fights against eye disease when older.


 


Rustic Flower Arranging: Dried Arrangements For Fall

Fall Dried Arrangements With ‘Brownery’

In the fall, fields and roadsides take on a beautiful rustic look. Tall grasses and weeds, whether native or invasive, begin to lose their green color. Photosynthesis in these plant species also comes to a halt allowing them to change like tree leaves. I call it ‘brownery’, and I love using it in fall arrangements.

Fall wildflowers fade gracefully as they ‘go to seed’.  The goldenrod that peaks in mid-October is especially pretty as it fades from a golden yellow to a light fuzzy white. The fading happens in stages from clump to clump; they don’t all turn puffy white at the same time. This makes them fun to use in different arrangements.

Queen Anne’s Lace, a favorite summer wildflower does the same. Queen Anne can be found with her lacy head still white or turned to a withered delicate brown.

Thanksgiving Table Arrangement

A walk on an early November day can help you to create a beautiful, free and sustainable arrangement. Gather some  brownery and containers. Get your arrangement just right and then spray  it with Krylon  crystal clear gloss. Spritz it several times, allowing each coat to dry before adding another. This will help preserve your creation. Enjoy it for awhile and then use it for the Thanksgiving table.

The brownery may be different where you live, but I hope I can inspire you to make a sustainable fall arrangement for your Thanksgiving dinner table decoration this year.

In the first arrangement, I used goldenrod gone to seed and in its last stage before a brisk autumn wind takes it completely away. Puffy wheat-like weeds and clusters of red berry-topped stalks add texture and color. Notice the fresh Queen Anne’s Lace that I found.  There is not much of it left in November. A gold-colored tin vase adds to this arrangement’s rustic look.

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The Last of the Goldenrod and Deep Red Berries

Puffy white goldenrod and fresh white Queen Anne’s Lace.
Close-up of first arrangement

Sunny Golden Puffs

The next sunny arrangement incorporates goldenrod as it turns a deep brownish-gold and then to a light, puffy yellow. It looks like the down on a baby duck.  I added unidentified brownery and gold-colored weeds that resemble little cat o’ nine tails.  A bright yellow vase and a bow of autumn plaid helps to make this a really pretty arrangement.

A sunny look with downy yellow goldenrod.

 

Sunny yellow puffs and deep gold goldenrod.

Having a June Wedding? Check out this rustic early summer arrangement. 

 Cornucopia of Fresh and Dried Flowers

The horn-of-plenty, or cornucopia is a traditional symbol of Thanksgiving. Make a special one for the table with fresh flowers combined with some natural brownery.  In the last arrangement, fresh market autumn flowers are paired with dried lace cap hydrangeas and yellowed grape vine.

The fresh flowers can last longer in little floral water tubes.

Use your resources and imagination to create a dried arrangement for Fall and then have a great free and sustainable Thanksgiving table decoration.

 

 

 Have a Creative Autumn! Recommended by My Creative Palette:

 

Preserving Fall Leaves: Fall Leaves For Grandma

Best Way to Preserve Fall Leaves

When I was growing up, we preserved leaves by using waxed paper and a warm iron. Now that there is clear Contac there should be no more sticky irons. The best way to preserve fall leaves is by pressing them between two sheets of  Contac plastic. Use short pieces for easier managing. Place two or three leaves on a sheet sticky side up. Using your fingers, press the leaves firmly into the plastic. Cover with another sheet of Contac sticky side down and press again firmly. 

When Grandma moved to the beach for her golden years, this idea came in handy.  Grandma lives right by the Inter-coastal Waterway with a distant view of the Atlantic. In the fall, she enjoys watching the “snowbirds” go by in their big boats on the way to Florida for the winter months. One thing she really misses though is the variety of foliage and autumn color from further inland.

Autumn Crafts: Grandma’s Leaves

Now Grandma can enjoy fall colors!

Fall Leaf Sun Catchers

Materials needed:

  • preserved leaves
  • mini suction cups
  • hole punch
  • scissors

 

Grandma’s fall leaf sun catchers are real and will last and last thanks to clear Contac. After preserving leaves, cut around them with scissors. Use the hole punch to punch a hole in the top of each leaf. Now you can hang the leaf sun catchers and enjoy them on a window or perhaps on the fridge.

Fall leaf sun catchers will be a hit with guests no matter where you live!

Fall leaf sun catcher

 

Fall Leaf Mobile

Grandma’s fall leaf mobile.

There are dozens of ways to make mobiles. Preserve leaves and use them in any one of the ways. We used the following method and  materials for Grandma’s leaf mobile.

  • preserved leaves
  • wooden dowels of graduating thicknesses
  • fishing line
  • scissors
  • white clear-drying glue
  • hole punch
  • yarn or twine
Preserve leaves and make a mobile with wooden dowels and fishing line.

Tie a length of fishing line of about 18 inches on each end of the thickest wooden dowel. Secure with a drop of clear-drying glue. Add the wooden dowel of medium thickness at the end of the 18 inch lengths of fishing line.

Attach two preserved leaves at each end of the top wooden dowel with about six inches of fishing line.

Add two preserved leaves at each end of the top, thickest wooden dowel.

Add a longer length of fishing line to the middle of the top dowel, about 12 inches. Add a preserved leaf on the end.

Add a preserved leaf to the middle of the top dowel on a longer length of fishing line.

Add a preserved leaf on each end of the middle dowel with about 18 inches of fishing line.

Attach preserved leaves at each end of the middle dowel. Add another in the middle on a longer length of fishing wire.

Attach the third and thinnest dowel a few inches below with fishing line on each side. Now attach the last tier of leaves and your fall leaf mobile is complete!

 

 

Five Little Pumpkins:Make Pumpkin Puppets

Finger plays are an important part of the early childhood classroom. The flow and rhyme of the words help develop important language skills such as reading and writing. They are useful for introducing certain concepts like counting and ordinal numbers to children.

Five Little Pumpkins has been a favorite October finger play for generations. Delight preschoolers, kindergartners and first graders with teacher-made pumpkin puppets to use with Five Little Pumpkins.

They are easily made from real miniature pumpkins. Slits cut in the bottom for inserting a craft stick is the trick to turning these mini pumpkins into puppets!

Using Pumpkin Puppets

Use the pumpkin puppets at circle time as a reward for five children to hold as the group recites the rhyme. Pumpkin puppets are a great addition to the creative dramatics center during the month of October.  They also make a cute table decoration at home!

Materials Needed For Pumpkin Puppets

  • 5 miniature pumpkins
  • 3 green chenille stems
  • 5 craft sticks
  • 2 sheets of 11/2 x 9 green construction paper
  • green glitter
Directions For Making Pumpkin Puppets
  1. Draw a jack-o-lantern face on each mini pumpkin with a black permanent marker
  2. Cut a slit in the bottom large enough to insert a craft stick. (Use the wide craft sticks.)
  3. Draw and cut out 5 leaves and stems.
  4. Cut a one-inch wide strip from a sheet of the green construction paper. Cut this in half to use for the pumpkin stem.
  5. Score one side of the strip to form tabs. Roll into a tube and glue ends together. (see picture below)
  6. Add a little green glitter to the edges of the leaves for a frosty look.
  7. Attach stems, leaves and vines with a hot glue gun and glue sticks.
  8. Coil half of a chenille stem around your finger to form a vine.

 

A slit in the bottom for inserting a craft stick is the trick for making pumpkin puppets.

Now place these near a chart size copy of  Five Little Pumpkins for lots of learning fun!

Cute Follow Up Project!

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Fall Leaf Art: Make Fall Leaf Fairies

On cool autumn nights the Fall Leaf Fairies come out to play. With their magic paint brushes they turn the leaves on the trees to shades of red, orange, gold and brown.

The Fall Leaf Fairies also make a clever and attractive bulletin board display.  They make a great project for learning about fall and trees. Use this as a teacher-made bulletin board too.

Take the kids outside to find leaves with shapes that remind them of dancing fairies. The curves on some oak leaves will work well. Help them trace and cut out leaves from the spirit-shaped leaves. A pink oval makes the fairies’ faces. Their caps are real acorns glittered gold and the paint brush handles are real stems.

Do you see the leaves that look like spirits?

Fall Thematic Unit Ideas

Trees, leaves and the changing of seasons provide many opportunities for learning. Create a thematic unit for fall by first reading  Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert.

Learning Activities for Math

Students can sort and graph leaves as a math activity. They can learn to identify and classify the different kinds of trees in their neighborhood. Lessons on ecology are easily incorporated in fall thematic  units. An essential question is: What happens if trees that are harvested for energy are not replaced?

Science Lesson

Teach students how to identify and classify  different kinds of trees in their own neighborhoods. Have lessons on why leaves change colors.

Language Arts

Students can write or dictate stories about their Fall Leaf Fairies.  Fall leaves provide a great prompt for descriptive writing. Color and texture words are abundant for fall language arts activities!

Have fun with Fall Leaf Fairies!

Dirt Pudding Cups: Dirty, Sandy And Yummy!

There are dozens of cute ways to use Oreo dirt cups and Nilla sand cups for kid’s parties and events.  Likewise, there are several variations of the recipe for them. Dirt cups are basically chocolate pudding and crushed Oreo cookies, while sand cups are made of vanilla pudding and crushed vanilla wafers.

I found that the simplest recipe with the fewest ingredients for dirt and sand pudding is a combination of pudding, crushed cookies and Cool Whip.  The trick is in how much of each to use.  Dirt pudding turns out quite well by using the following recipe.

Dirt Pudding

1 large box choc. instant pudding

20 Oreo cookies, crushed

8 ounces Cool Whip

For sand pudding, use vanilla pudding and vanilla wafers.

Ways  to use Dirt  Cups

Dirt and sand cups make fun snacks for learning activities as well as children’s’ parties. Make dirt cups when studying earth science. Young children will relate the dirt cups to soil, earthworms, and plant life.

Dirt pudding can even be served out of a Terra Cotta planter! This would be a great idea for everything from the classroom to gardening club events.

Gummy worms are a must for dirt pudding!  Kids love gummy worms; some adults do too. Have a discussion about how worms help aerate the soil.  This is important to plant life and the food chain. Kids need to know these basic science concepts. Cute ideas like these make those concepts stick.

Halloween

Add spooky props on Halloween for graveyard pudding cups. I found candy bones, skulls, and gummy worms for mine, and I used a Vienna finger for a tombstone.

Fresh Picked Sunflowers

In the early fall, when the Halloween candy

corn is in the stores, sunflower cookies served with dirt cups are good for lessons on plants for young children at school. They would also be great for a child’s September or October birthday party. Use the basic dirt pudding recipe.

Bake sugar cookies and ice them with lemon icing. A few drops of yellow food coloring will give the icing a deeper color. Tint a little royal icing yellow to attach the candy corn around the cookie. Chocolate sprinkles make “seeds” in the middle.

Using more royal icing, attach halves of green apple Twizzlers to the cookies. The dirt pudding in these dirt cups is topped with lime jello. Green tinted flaky coconut makes the grass!

This is a surprisingly tasty treat. Lime, lemon and green apple flavors are tamed with the candy corn and cookies for a sweet and sour taste experience

Ways to Use Sand Cups

Sand cups can be dressed up with props to create really cute pool party treats.  Add a few tanned Teddy Grahams, a peppermint striped ball and perhaps a cocktail umbrella for an adorable creation.

Plain, undecorated sand cups could culminate a unit on erosion and how rocks are broken down into sand. Leave some of the crushed wafers as larger pieces to represent the rocks.

Cute Sand Cup Desserts for Kid Pool Parties

Get creative and see what you can do with dirt and sand cups. No matter how you serve them up, these cute treats are sure to please!